NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Minnesota 30 28 24 17 99
Phoenix 28 28 29 22 107
6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CTNaN:� , December 15, 2018
Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona  Attendance: 14,244

Suns pull out of 10-game skid, look forward to facing Timberwolves

According to STATS
According to STATS

Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns

  1. The Timberwolves and Suns split four games last season, with each taking one game on the other's home court. Minnesota made only 28 three-pointers across the four games, their second fewest against a team they played at least four times last season (24 vs. Portland fewest).
  2. The Timberwolves lost to Sacramento on Wednesday, 141-130, dropping a game in which they scored at least 130 points for the second time this season. Prior to this season, they had only lost four such games in franchise history, never more than once in a single season, and only twice in non-overtime games.
  3. The Suns beat the Mavericks, 99-89, on Thursday, winning their first game since beating Milwaukee on the road on November 23. It was their third game this season holding an opponent under 100 points, tied with the Warriors for second fewest in the Western Conference (New Orleans fewest with 2).
  4. Andrew Wiggins went 10-of-15 from the field in Minnesota's loss to Sacramento, only his fifth game shooting 50.0 percent or better this season. Wiggins is shooting a career-low 40.3 percent from the field this season despite shooting a career-high 37.2 percent from three due to a 41.9 two-point percentage.
  5. T.J. Warren scored a season-high 30 points in Phoenix's win over Dallas, going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Warren is attempting 3.9 threes per game this season after never trying more than 1.5 per game in any previous season. His increase in three-point percentage from 22.2 last season to 44.4 this season is the largest in the NBA (min. 50% team games & 1 3PA/game both seasons).
  6. Minnesota has gone 9-6 (.600) since trading Jimmy Butler on October 12 after opening the season 4-9 (.308). The Timberwolves have been stronger offensively and defensively this season without Butler, averaging 111.2 and allowing an average of 108.5 points without him compared to 109.2/115.4 with him.

Phoenix played one of its best games of the season on Thursday.

Minnesota ... not so much.

Even so, the numbers make it difficult to identify a favorite when the teams meet for the first of three times this season on Saturday night in Phoenix.

Minnesota (13-15) has lost three in a row and is 2-11 on the road, tied for the second fewest road victories in the league. The Timberwolves have lost all 10 road games against Western Conference opponents this season, the latest a 140-131 loss at Sacramento.

The Suns (5-24) broke a 10-game losing streak with a 99-89 victory over the Dallas Stars, their fourth victory at home his season. At 4-11, the Suns are tied for the fewest home wins and most home losses in the league.

The Suns did it with defense Thursday. Dallas' 89 points were the fewest scoring against them this season, and they limited the to Mavericks to 39.7 percent shooting from the field, including 5 of 33 from 3-point range.

Coach Igor Kokoskov cited energy, which at times has been lacking this season, as the Suns won for the first time in the six games that Devin Booker has missed with a left hamstring injury. Booker is not expected to return Saturday.

"Even when we made mistakes, we found a way to get defensive stops through effort," Kokoskov said.

"Effort was there. Energy was there. Our defense scored for us. I can't remember the last game when we had that many pass-aheads in transition. Defensive stops allowed us to run tonight and to have some points and some easy buckets in transition."

TJ Warren had 30 points, his first 30-point game of the season, and the Suns had a season-high 23 takeaways leading to 14 fast-break points while beating the Mavericks for the seventh straight time.

"When you start a game with defensive stops and you convert those stops in fast-break points, it gives you confidence that you can compete and you can maybe win a game," Kokoskov said.

"It's not easy to sustain for 48 minutes, but we played unselfishly and we found a way."

The Suns came together after veteran Jamal Crawford spoke to the team during the Thursday morning shoot-around.

"I just wanted us to get in the mindset of winning," said Crawford, who had 17 points and tied a season high with five assists.

"I think we should start speaking it into existence. I thought everybody this morning was focused, everybody was locked in. Winning is a mindset, but so is losing. Isiah Thomas taught me that. For us, it's about just trying to dig ourselves out of this hole. Trying to get better each day and building."

Crawford played the final nine minutes and backup center Richaun Holmes played the final eight in place of No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton, who had seven points and five rebounds in 26 minutes.

Minnesota will play the final game of a four-game road trip that has included losses to Portland and Golden State. The Timberwolves entered the trip having won nine of 12 after trading Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia on Nov. 12.

Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points and Derrick Rose had 20 off the bench.

The Timberwolves shot 53.8 percent from the floor against Sacramento. The Kings were even hotter, hitting 58.1 percent from the field and making a season-high 19 3-pointers on 38 attempts.

"There wasn't no communication out there," Derrick Rose told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "We didn't get back, and how many transition points did they have? It seems like every time we play against them, they just push the ball. It's that simple. It's not very complex."

The Kings ran past the Timberwolves for 33 fast-break points and scored 45 points in the fourth quarter. The 141 points were the most against Minnesota this season.

"The disappointment was in our defense," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. "If you can't play defense, you can't win in this league. We gave them everything."

Wiggins has scored at least 20 points in the last four games while shooting 52.2 percent from the field. He is averaging 21.1 points and shooting 50 percent from the field in 17 career games against the Suns.

Updated December 14, 2018

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